Re: Looking at used Bari's, whats the dif with the old and new??
I think the physical difference you are noticing is the difference between a low A and a low Bb bari sax. The low A baris have a longer bell to accommodate the extra key. Most of the modern bari saxophones manufactured today have the low A key whereas most vintage baris are only keyed down to low Bb. The low A didn't really get incorporated into the bari sax until the late 1940's and even then it was fairly uncommon until about 1970.
There are advantages/disadvantages to both low A and non-low A bari saxes. Some people prefer the sound and feel of a Bb bari as it is a bit lighter and takes the air differently than a low A horn. There is also a difference in how the horn resonates and in the overall sonics. Then again, other players prefer the tone of a low A. Also, many time you need to low A to play written music as most composers today expect the range of a bari to play down to low A.
If you're looking for a new bari in a decent price point, I would recommend a P. Mauriat LeBravo, Buffet 400 or Chateau professional model. These are all very reasonably priced in the $2800-$3800 range. I would avoid a new bari sax priced at $1500 unless its some sort of sale or discounted deal. Also, be sure you have the opportunity to have it play tested and looked over by a reliable repair shop. Quite simply, it just costs more than that to manufacture a quality bari sax today, especially figuring in shipping costs from overseas.
Decent affordable used baris to consider include King Zephyr, Conn 12M, Buescher 400, Yamaha 52 or 62, and/or Yani 901. Best of Luck!!!